Security officials announced on Saturday, July 8, that an estimated 80 Islamic State (IS) linked Maute militants are still occupying buildings in Marawi City. The fighters have taken up positions in a number of high-rise buildings, allowing snipers to gain critical vantage points over the city. Security forces are using airstrikes to hit suspected militant positions before launching a ground offensive to clear out the remaining fighters. According to military sources, as of July 8, 366 militants, 87 government soldiers, and 39 civilians have been killed in the fighting that started over a month ago. An estimated 300 civilians are still trapped in militant held areas.
A major armed conflict has been ongoing in Marawi City (Mindanao island) since May 23, following a botched government raid on a hideout sheltering Isnilon Hapilon, a commander of the Abu Sayyaf militant group. The Philippine government is battling different militant Islamist groups that are laying siege to the city, including IS-affiliated Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the Abu Sayyaf militant group, and the Maute group. The conflict is sparking fear across the region as Indonesian and Malaysian nationals fight the extremist Islamist groups. The conflict is part of a wider decades-old insurgency in the marginalized Muslim-majority areas of the Philippines. Around 246,000 people have also been displaced by the fighting.
Individuals are advised to avoid the region surrounding Marawi City, to monitor the situation, and to obey all instructions issued by the local authorities.
As a reminder, most Western governments formally advise against all travel to southwest Mindanao and to the Sulu Archipelago due to terrorist activity, regular clashes between the military and insurgent groups, and the risk of kidnapping by Abu Sayyaf.